The Library Program aims to develop a love of reading because research tells us that having a strong understanding of the structure of stories assists in cognitive development (Haven, 2007). Reading strengthens the links between the neural pathways (further developing a variety of schemas) that are required to remember other stories, connect those with the present story and make sense through questioning. Haven’s (2007) research tells us that this allows us to understand, make sense of, remember and plan our life. Reading then, is vital for the further growth and development of our students.
Reading and writing are inextricably linked. The act of writing and creating stories requires a strong understanding of the structure of stories to develop a narrative. Being able to describe and develop characters, motivations, obstacles and perils, and so on relies on prior knowledge of other similar stories with the same structure. Students with wide and varied exposure to stories can more readily apply that structure to their writing.
Reading a wide variety of texts and being exposed to literature from many genres supports classroom comprehension strategies and fact finding. Trostle’s 1999 studies reported in Haven (2007) revealed that the simple act of reading aloud more to children has a significant positive effect on comprehension. This is especially important in a school with a significant EALD population.
Reading encourages imagination and creativity by modelling fantastical characters, illustrating and describing magical places and times and exposing children to worlds far beyond reality (Gaiman, 2013). Stories allow students to connect and converse with one another, sharing opinions, justifications and ideas. Helping students to identify their reading preferences by what pleasures them most about a story is extremely motivating for them to imagine and create and read more (Nodelman and Reimer, 2003).
Reading encourages cultural awareness and social consciousness. Stories provide opportunities for critical literacy examining historical perspectives and cultural norms over time (Winch, 2006). They also provide opportunities for students to examine complex, confronting and challenging issues such as family dynamics, sexuality, divorce, depression, prejudice, refugees, war, and so on (Barone, 2011). Reading and discussing these global social issues aims to make our students global citizens, encourage them to act, develop their own opinions on what is right and wrong and develop empathy for others thrown into situations that our students may or may not have experienced first hand.
Aiming to develop a ‘love of reading’ in our students is more than just a good idea, it is essential for their continued intellectual, personal and social growth.
- Barone, D. M. (2011). A brief history of children’s literature. Children’s literature in the classroom : engaging lifelong readers (pp. 8-19). New York: Guilford Press.
- Gaiman, N. (2013). Why our futures depend on libraries, reading, and imagination. The Guardian. Retrieved July 28, 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
- Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof : The science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Nodelman, P., & Reimer, M. (2003). The pleasures of children’s literature. (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- Winch, G. (2006). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. pp. 393-413.